Questions by Matt Moore, CBSSports.com's Eye On Basketball
1. You wrote about the free agency of 2012 this week and who will be players. Isn't it possible given the relative restraint we saw in the preseason and the threat of the repeater tax that this is a slow, quiet free agency period in which the number of absurd deals is limited?
KB: There aren't a lot of free agents worth $8-$10 million and up. Then again, that means lots of opportunities to overpay. In general, I agree with your premise; there shouldn't be a lot of money thrown around in July. Somehow, though, someone always finds a way to make it rain when the forecast calls for a drought. I'll say this: trades could make up for the lack of a signing bonanza. Situations like Josh Smith in Atlanta and other deals that teams were reluctant to make in a shortened season with the trade deadline so late will be dealt with in July. And that means more fun for everyone, doesn't it?
2. What kind of result would be considered a "successful" season for the Clippers? What's their bar set at right now?
KB: I think if they get out of the first round, it's a success. But that's easy for me to say; I'm not a Clippers fan who's endured decades of ineptitude and who fears this may be the only chance for my team to achieve anything.
3. How much do "big games" like Heat/Thunder affect your thinking on the MVP? Some people think they matter a lot, others think no one game or handful of games should outweigh the overall production.
KB: The national TV games used to matter A LOT with voters who didn't get a chance to see everyone play every night. Now, with League Pass, League Pass Broadband, League Pass Mobile, League Pass In Your Dreams, we've all seen enough Kevin Durant and LeBron James to know what kind of season they've had. So there's no need to put extra stock in a head-to-head matchup on TV. They're fun to watch, though.
4. Is the Knicks' ability to keep competing and winning without Amar'e and Lin with Melo taking all of the shots a good thing or bad thing for the Knicks long-term?
KB: Not sure, because even if the Knicks decided they were better off with Melo and without Amar'e, they can't trade Amar'e and they've already used amnesty, so the next coach is going to have to figure it out. The surprising thing to me is that Baron Davis, at this stage of his career and coming off a serious back injury, has been more than serviceable at point guard. A Davis-Lin platoon, so to speak, would provide a pretty interesting change of pace.
5. This is me eating crow on Boston. I thought they were dead in the water, you thought they'd come around. Later than anyone thought, but here they are, leading the division and in place for a playoff run. Would you be surprised to see this team in the Finals?
KB: Have to admit, I was worried that I went overboard with my belief in the Celtics. But Pierce is Pierce again, Garnett has been solid at the five, and if Avery Bradley gives Doc Rivers the luxury of having a Hall of Famer named Ray Allen come off his bench in the playoffs ... wow. Would I be surprised to see the Celtics in the Finals? Stunned, yes. But I've seen them will their way to improbable performances in too many playoff series to think that they will let the Big Three era end without a fierce fight -- and maybe a surprise or two.